Monday, May 19, 2014

You guys rock!

You really do! Over on Facebook, anyway.

Here's what I'm excited about. I've been checking my website statistics over on for the last week or so and have noticed something that hasn't happen in about nine years.

Since about 2004, when I recorded it with a single microphone hanging from a curtain in a piano student's living room before my class' spring recital at the school where I was teaching at the time, Erik Satie's little Gymnopedie has been consistently the number one most listened to piece of music on this website. For over nine years. It usually gets about 3000 hits a month, and for about six months in--I don't know, I think it was about three or four years ago now--it was getting around 8,000 hits a month. It didn't exactly go viral, but for a piece of classical piano music on the personal website of a guy who doesn't advertise and didn't put it on Youtube, that seemed pretty high. And it was nice to be getting listened to like that, particularly when at least half of those hits seemed to be coming from China, which makes it that much cooler, since you know that people clear on the other side of the globe are hearing you play the piano most times of the day and night. Even if most of them are going through those enormous mp3 searching sites and have never actually visited pianonoise, couldn't read anything I've written if they did, and even if some of them have no idea who is playing the music and don't care, and even if, occasionally, somebody makes a CD which they try to pass off as their own playing and which sounds suspiciously like that one's own recording (true story--also they didn't bother to change the file name so it was easy to track!)

Now I've got nothing against Mr. Satie's nice little Gymnopedie--it was even revolutionary for its time, and it is quite well known today. But one of the things I hope to do with Pianonoise is to introduce people to things they haven't heard before, to get them to go beyond liking what they already know and knowing only what they already like. I'm an explorer myself, often recording pieces of music I didn't know the week before, and I'd like to be able to take my audience with me. Besides, I get tired of the same old same old.

For the last five weeks now I've been using Twitter to post links to Facebook that play pieces of music from this site. I've been calling it "Mystery Music Monday" and not telling people what I'm playing. Since my site has a wide variety of styles of music played on both the piano and the organ you never quite know what you are getting into. Frankly, I'm a little puzzled why no one is asking what they are listening to! But what is gratifying is that people are listening. I've been getting about 50 to 60 hits a week to these files within the first 24 hours, which may not sound like a lot, but when you compare that number to the amount of memory the server is going through it shows that at least half of you are listening to the entire piece--in other words, it is a dedicated listenership. In an age when people are getting inundated with all kinds of entertainment options and information that they haven't asked for that's quite good. I only have about 150 Facebook friends, too, which means that about a third of them are taking a few minutes out of their Monday to listen to whatever I've decided to throw at them.

I haven't made it simple, either. While I usually toss in some ragtime or uptempo non-classical something or other in concert appearances with general audiences, the last two of four weeks have featured music from the Baroque period. And, as of this writing, that sonata by Scarlatti that I played a couple of weeks ago has the number one spot, finally dethroning Erik Satie after nine years. That's right--Domenico Scarlatti is in the number one spot! That's followed by pieces by Gottschalk, Telemann, and Joplin, all four of which were featured on Monday morning Mystery Music. While I haven't ventured into particularly heavy territory yet, I'm still pleased to see people taking a chance on piano and organ music that they've probably never heard. Most of my Facebook friends aren't professional musicians--in fact, a clear majority of them aren't musicians at all, so this means I really have a chance to share music with people who aren't out there specifically looking for this kind of music to listen to, nor are they part of the "inner circle" of persons who already know what they like and like what they know when it comes to how somebody interprets a sonata by Scarlatti because they've heard it a hundred times before.

People who write about classical music are constantly worried about the fate of this music, that it may be dying, that more people aren't listening to it. While this may not be a major news event, it is nevertheless nice to see music getting around to regular folks who seem to be enjoying it. I've stretched the definition of classical somewhat to include Scott Joplin (he would have too, I think) and Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and some early jazz, and a few other styles my cousin Marteau may have dabbled in which might be a desecration of the temple to purists. Well, too bad. We're having some fun and I don't want to press my luck with copious amounts of late Beethoven at the moment. But you'll be hearing from him, too.

Anyhow, that was what got me up this morning. Carry on, and enjoy listening! It's a pleasure playing for you.

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